Page 507 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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“we have the best system in the country” and that “if you were going to get sick anywhere in the world, you would want to get sick in the ACT”.

The AMA, in its Public hospital report card 2007, made specific mention of the fact that, according to the State of our public hospitals report of the commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing 2004-07, there had been “significant deterioration in the ACT” regarding emergency department performance. In summary, the AMA report scored the ACT last in four key waiting time measurements covering elective surgery and emergency departments. It concluded that the ACT had little to show for spending that is well above the national average. Minister, which of these contradictory statements is true? Is the AMA report card a fabrication?

MS GALLAGHER: I have to say re the AMA report card and the timing of it that I think it is commonly accepted that it was part of an election campaign stunt in the lead-up to the federal election.

Opposition members interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: We were not asked to provide information for that publication. I do not want to sit here and attack the AMA, other than to say that I think the document was designed in response to the federal election campaign that was underway at the time. I stand by the comments I made yesterday around the ACT’s public hospital system and I stand behind the claim that even those opposite, if they were to choose somewhere to get sick, would choose to get sick in the ACT and be treated here. If you look at all the data around, particularly around outcomes for patients being seen in the public health system, the outcomes in the ACT are the best in the country. They are measured by things such as the utilisation rate of the hospital system, unplanned returns to theatre and hospital-acquired infections. All of those performance measures show that we have one of the best public hospital and health systems in the country.

There are areas where we need to lift our performance, and the government has been injecting significant resources and time into improving those areas. They are in categories 3 and 4 of the emergency department—categories 1, 2 and 5 are excellent—and in some of the long waits for elective surgery patients. I have stood here since I have been minister—and I believe the minister before me did the same—and acknowledged those areas that we need to improve.

We have to look at this in the context of what we are dealing with here. In 2000-01 we were dealing with and delivering about 6,400 elective surgery procedures a year. We are dealing with and putting through this year 9,600 elective surgery procedures. We have increased our output by 3,000 a year; by the end of this year we expect that to be the case. We have commissioned extra operating theatres. We have our elective surgery system working to full capacity. There is no more we can do to increase the number of elective surgery procedures that we are delivering—there is absolutely nothing more that we can do—besides building new operating theatres, building new capacity within our hospitals and increasing our bed numbers, continuing to increase the bed numbers that were lost under the previous government—114 beds lost, 147 replaced.

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